Consumer attention span is less than eight seconds and people often make judgments about whether or not they trust a business by its name. If it’s great, the first impression can start a chain reaction, drawing customers in, building trust, loyalty and brand recognition. If it’s not, it can be alienating, distracting and downright offensive. What impression is your business name making? Is it leaving your visitors wanting to learn more or is it driving them away?
The First Impression is Paramount…and Happens Sooner Than You Think
When customers seek out your products or services and visit your website, what do you think creates their first impression? Is it your website layout and design? The content? Believe it or not, before a visitor even clicks or navigates to your site by typing it in an address bar, they’ve already made judgments about your business when they first saw the name of your business. You work hard to ensure you get adequate exposure through print and web advertising, social campaigns etc. You should realize that before anyone looks twice at your logo or considers the thoughts of a compelling blog, they have already nearly solidified a first impression about your business.
Effective marketing strategies seek to provide answers to questions like “Why is my customer not clicking, engaging, providing an email address, purchasing etc.?” Too often, companies spend the majority of a marketing budget trying to resolve these types of questions when the answer could be as simple as an ineffective business name. Could your business name be turning off your target market? Here are a few things to consider.
Is Your Business Name Clear?
Having a clear business name does not mean having a name that “gets the message across”. This is not the job of your business name. A clear business name does mean simple and straightforward language that is meaningful to your customers, causing them to want to seek you out in the future. Too often, business owners overlook the significant impact a quality, brandable business name can have on their new visitors.
Is Your Business Name Offensive…To Anyone?
It’s not uncommon for young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs to try and differentiate themselves with names they believe to be funny and edgy. Unfortunately, names like these have no lasting appeal because they instantly limit attraction. Take for example, the game app called “Bosshole.” While a small target audience may find the name bold and daring, far too many others will be confused, annoyed and even offended.
Here’s an excerpt of the voluntary feedback I had for the creators of Bosshole.
“I read about your struggle to get this app off the ground. I would venture to say that it might have something to do with the name. Let me explain. While it is a clever blend of the words ‘asshole’ and ‘boss’, and it does get our attention, is it really that clever? Do we, as your audience, really think it is clever? The very first step of any product attraction, especially a game, is its name. It comes down to a snap decision in our minds - a series of several intimate Q&A's.
“In addition to your name being offensive to a huge group of people, I believe your name is detracting from your audience for other reasons as well. Your game may be absolutely amazing, but the unique name ‘Bosshole’ is almost instantly unsettling in our minds. We say the name and we think, ‘Oh, a boss who is an asshole.’ And then we wonder right away, ‘Wait, wouldn't that be basshole?’ Then our minds drift to fishing for sea bass and we revisit the name, trying to make sense of it again. The point is that it inevitably becomes a mental puzzle that we just simply want to escape from.
Furthermore, questioning a business name like this causes us then to question the product. Maybe not consciously, but unconsciously we may think, ‘I'm not going near something I am confused by so early on.’ Maybe this is an exaggeration, but these are my instant feelings about getting your app. If the name is weird and off, maybe the app is. It's like judging a book by its cover, it sucks but we all do it.”
Be sure to think about your entire target market and how everyone, from the witty college students and the stay-at-home parents, will receive your business name. Don’t attempt to outsmart anyone by being too cleverly creative; if it feels like it doesn't work to you then most of us will think so too.
Does Your Business Name Make Sense?
Names that are unique and brandable are special precisely because they are unique and brandable - nothing more. At first glance, these names may mean nothing at all but the successful ones are created by a combination of sounds, words or letter amalgams that are recognizable and have some sort of underlying meaning. The trick is, these names make a lot of sense to your target audience at a glance and as a result, they become trusted and recognized, brandable names.
In an uncertain economy where competition is fierce, don’t make the mistake of alienating potential customers with a distracting name. Remember that you have only one opportunity to make a first impression and that it happens a lot sooner than you think. Choose a name that is clear, non-offensive and makes sense to your market. Do your part with a quality, brandable business name and consumers will reward you with repeat business again and again.